Sylhet violence leaves 2 dead
Two people were killed and at least 50 including 10 policemen injured in fierce clashes between pro-hartal pickets and law enforcers at Bishwanath upazila headquarters in Sylhet during the BNP-enforced second straight countrywide hartal yesterday.
The clashes, which lasted over two hours, also saw the
agitators set fire to the upazila parishad building and lay siege to the local police station.
Of the dead, Monwar Hossain, 30, was an activist of Jubo Dal, while the identity of the other could not yet be known, said police.
Bishwanath is part of the constituency (Sylhet-2) of former BNP lawmaker Ilias Ali, who along with his car driver disappeared in the early hours of April 18 from the capital's Banani area.
Meanwhile, the main opposition BNP yesterday declared a third consecutive dawn-to-dusk hartal for today in protest over the disappearance of Ilias and his driver.
“The government is staging a drama over the Ilias issue. It must stop the drama and return Ilias to us,” Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, acting secretary general of BNP, told a press conference at the party's central office in the capital's Nayapaltan yesterday afternoon.
He said, “Since the government has abducted Ilias, the agitation will continue until it returns him.”
Fakhrul said 371 people including party Vice-Chairman Selima Rahman were arrested, and 795 more were injured in attacks by law enforcers and ruling party men yesterday.
Hours after the announcement of the fresh hartal, three buses were torched in the capital's Nayapaltan, Matsya Bhaban intersection and Abdullahpur in Uttara, said police.
BNP MULLS ULTIMATUM
The BNP might issue an ultimatum to the government today to rescue Ilias Ali.
The party's National Standing Committee decided this in a meeting at BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's Gulshan office yesterday evening.
Meeting sources said Khaleda will announce the ultimatum and the next course of agitation programme at a press conference this evening.
VIOLENCE IN BISHWANATH
Police and witnesses said several thousand people armed with bamboo sticks and local weapons from about eight villages including Ramdhana of Alongkari union, the home of Ilias Ali, marched towards the upazila complex around 2:00pm.
The clash ensued when the law enforcers intercepted the agitating mob in front of the building.
The riot turned the area into a battlefield as police fired blank shots, rubber bullets and tear gas shells to disperse the mob.
The villagers, in retaliation, pelted police with brickbats and stones. They also attempted to set afire the Bishwanath Police Station.
At one stage, police recovered the bullet-hit body of Monwar from the spot while the other succumbed to his injuries at MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital.
Later the authorities called in Border Guard Bangladesh to help police and Rapid Action Battalion to control the situation.
HARTAL IN CAPITAL
Police, like the recent hartal days, cordoned off the BNP's central office since 6:00am.
Heavy contingents of law enforcers were deployed on the city streets to maintain law and order.
Police said they detained 41 pickets from the city during chase and counter-chase with pro-hartal activists.
Opposition activists vandalised four vehicles at different areas and hurled a few handmade bombs.
A minibus was torched in Chankharpool area around 7:30am.
Ten women leaders and activists of BNP including Selima Rahman were picked up from the capital's Gulshan area when they tried to bring out a procession.
Several BNP lawmakers brought out a procession and held two rallies on the parliament premises in the morning.
In Mohakhali, Bangladesh Chhatra League activists along with law enforcers chased and dispersed a procession brought out by the activists of Govt Titumir College unit of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal at Wireless Gate around 9:20am.
Chhatra League men brought out an anti-hartal procession with books and notebooks in their hands demanding an end to the strike.
Miscreants hurled a molotov cocktail in Motijheel area around 1:30pm and vandalised a BRTC bus.
Police also detained three people from in front of the BNP central office and two more from the Central Shaheed Minar premises.
A number of city service buses, CNG-run three-wheelers and motorcycles plied the major streets, while the private transports stayed off the roads. Rickshaws, as usual in hartal days, dominated the thoroughfares of the capital.
No inter-district buses left the city terminals since the morning. The train and launch services, however, remained normal.
All educational institutions and shopping malls on the major roads remained closed.
Our correspondents from Sylhet, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Bogra and Sirajganj have reported incidents of minor violence during hartal hours.
In Gazipur, a mobile court sentenced three people to a jail term of seven days each for picketing.
SELIMA LANDS IN JAIL
A Dhaka court yesterday sent 10 people including BNP Vice-Chairman Selima Rahman to jail after Gulshan police produced them before the court showing them arrested under section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Bikash Kumar Saha passed the order.
Contacted, counsel of the accused advocate Masud Ahmed Talukder said police secretly produced his clients before the court around 7:30pm and the court sent them to jail without granting them (lawyers) the opportunity to move any bail petition.
GOVT PRESS NOTE
A press note issued late this evening said law enforcers are continuing all out efforts based on the information from reliable sources, reports BSS.
The government has taken effective steps to rescue the former BNP parliamentarian Ilias Ali in view of his disappearance on the night of April 17.
Ilias Ali's wife has already provided sincere cooperation to the members of law enforcing agencies in rescuing her husband, the press note said.
The government regrets that despite sincere efforts of the administration to rescue Ilias Ali, the main opposition instead of cooperating with the government is continuously calling hartal to incite the people and causing sufferings to them.
At the same time, it is observed that unfortunately a section of the press is printing stories that are completely imaginary and baseless. Such stories include ideas that there are a number of terms and conditions on which the rescue of Illias Ali contingent has created confusion and hatred in the minds of the people.
These kind of fabricated stories hinder the actual rescue operation and exposing the mystery of the missing person.
The government appeals to all to refrain from making imaginary stories, hartals and arson that are causing sufferings to the people.
The press note urged the people to extend all out cooperation to maintain law and order as well as to accelerate the rescue effort.